Workers’ action to stop council cuts

Councils across the country have announced huge spending cuts as a result of reduced government grant support for the new financial year. Some areas will be worse hit than others and Labour and Tory councillors alike are jostling for their share of a smaller cake. Only workers’ organisation against all cuts and all closures can halt the attack by both government and council. That is the message Communist Party candidates will be taking to the local elections in April and May

COUNCIL SPENDING cuts have become a way of life, and it makes no difference which capitalist party holds the balance of power in your council. But cuts this year on an already skeleton service will hit those most in need harder.

Local councillors are keen to shift the blame for decaying communities onto central government and ‘unfair’ allocation in this year’s reduced grant support.

On Wednesday thousands of council workers in Newcastle supported 24-hour strike action in protest against a threatened five million pounds budget cut. Council services were brought to a standstill.

Tony Flynn, leader of the council, complained if the grant cut goes ahead 200 teachers would be lost; 40 social workers, six homes for the elderly and two or three day centres would close; and meals on wheels would be cut by 50%. But his solution? The worst cuts could be prevented if the capping criteria for London boroughs were applied to other metropolitan districts - and what about non-metropolitan districts, Tony?

On Tuesday members of Ellesmere’s youth service lobbied the Commons against threatened cuts. Shropshire as a whole is faces £14.5 million in budget cuts, £380,000 of which is targeted on youth, placing 30% of the service at risk.

Kathy Edmonds of Ellesmere Youth Service pointed out that the government is keen to blame youth for crime, but will not put money into providing youth services. “The cost of youth crime is estimated at £2,300 per youth, whereas providing education and services costs £30,” she said. “Shropshire has a Conservative MP at the moment, but they have gone too far now. People feel the government is not listening to them”.

In Birmingham, Labour leader Mrs Theresa Stewart complained that they had been ‘forced’ to find savings of £41 million and would ‘have’ to cut 600 jobs.

Labour and Tory councillors alike have all supported their own party’s tax and spending policies. Tory and Labour councillors alike have implemented years of cuts throughout the country. Tory and Labour councillors alike have closed schools, day centres and old people's homes, slashing jobs and pay. The hypocritical hand wringing and book balancing does not wash any more.

Local council cuts are a result of the same disease that cuts welfare and closes hospitals, factories and pits. It makes millions unemployed and homeless and introduces Jobseekers and slave labour wages. Capitalism - whether at council or government level - is trying to balance the books.

But we know that the rich are getting richer, while the low paid and unemployed are sinking ever deeper into poverty. It is not up to us to pay for the bosses’ economic crisis. It is not up to us to fund their 75% pay increases, while our wages in real terms plummet. But we will be made to pay as long as we do not organise to fight back.

That means no cuts, no closures, no job losses. It means organising workers locally to fight together against all closures and cuts in services. This is the message Communist candidates will be taking to the local elections. It is no good trying to get a bigger slice of the cake - it is not big enough.

If capitalism cannot provide basic services and living conditions for the mass of workers today, then it is capitalism that must go, not our education, health, jobs and services.